Members of Arkansas’ cycling community are most likely to associate the name Scott Schroen with Phat Tire Bike Shop, where Scott worked for seven years until June 1. That’s no surprise given Scott’s contributions to the ever-growing world of Natural State bicycling—he’s long been an advocate, educator and all-around guru the cycling masses have come to depend on. In fact, when national publication Bike Magazine decided to use northwest Arkansas as a testing ground for its 2017 Bike Bible, it was Scott whom they tapped to build each of the more than three dozen bikes featured.
In the midst of all this activity, Scott has somehow found the time to launch a new venture—one that utilizes his gifts for building and designing in a way very different from the bike world: Timbernak Designs, a carpentry and woodcraft business that features Scott’s own handiwork, particularly a line of lovingly hand-crafted Arkansas-themed Adirondack chairs. Like so many artisan ventures, Timbernak began with a hobby project.
“I’ve been working on [building things] nearly all my life,” says Scott. “Some of my earliest memories are begging my dad to use his power tools or to build something in the garage. There are photographs of me as a kid sitting in the driveway in a big pile of wood. I was always putting something together.” He cites his father as a huge influence.
“He taught me the basics of which tools do what,” says Scott. “In addition, he also taught me about what it means to build things to a certain quality standard.”
Scott’s desire to build things eventually led him to designing and putting together the first prototype Timbernak chair, and during a drive home from visiting family for the Thanksgiving holiday last year, that chair morphed into an idea for a business.
“I told my wife I needed something to have for my own,” he says. “The bike shop is great—I love my job—but it would be nice to have my own business. She asked me what I wanted to do and I told her ‘build stuff.’” Seeking to lead with his passion, Scott began turning his lifelong love of woodcraft into something greater. But he still felt he needed an edge.
“At first, I was just going to build Adirondack chairs,” he says. “But I got to wondering why anyone would buy a plain chair from me. Maybe my friends and family, you know, but not anything beyond that. There’s a thousand of them out there with different colors and styles.” Scott’s solution? Turn the back of each chair into the state of Arkansas.
“I literally stood in my garage just staring at [the first] chair for an hour, just daydreaming and trying to figure out how to make it look unique,” Scott says. “Finally it dawned on me that the chair back kind of resembles the shape of the state of Arkansas—maybe I could find a way to turn the backrest into that.”
The process involved a great deal of trial and error—although Scott says he didn’t think it would in the beginning. “I thought it would just be a quick thing,” he says with a laugh. “I utilized Photoshop and took a picture of the chair, then an overlay of Arkansas to create a template. I wanted to keep the shape of the state whole—in a way, that shape is a brand and to modify it was something I did not want to do.” Keeping that brand whole meant Scott even went as far as to figure out a way to mount everything from the back, keeping the face of each backrest free from visible screws.
Scott’s broken the construction of each chair down to an exact science: “One chair takes more than 75 feet of red cedar,” says Scott Schroen of his chairs. “It’s all hand-routed and sanded—and there are more than 201 separate cuts per chair.” Why so many? It’s because of Scott’s attention to detail. “I’m a detail-oriented guy,” he says. “I always have been. Everything [on these chairs] is designed to within a half-millimeter’s precision. I want everything to be of a nice quality—I freak out if little details are off. Even though that adds a lot of time [to each chair], my hopes are that my attention to detail will result in a reputation for high-quality production, making everything I do more sought after.”
While chairs are currently Scott’s main Timbernak product, the sturdy cedar seats aren’t the only thing he is working on. “I’m also building custom dog kennels, as well as counter and bar tops,” he says. “For now, I want to keep coming up with unique products and create a repertoire of things I keep in stock. That way, I’m able to keep fine-tuning each product instead of always doing something new. Then I can keep adding things to my portfolio slowly.”
The chairs themselves are built to last. Red cedar is an excellent wood for furniture exposed to the elements: It’s slow to rot, bugs tend to avoid it and it stands up to weather like a champ. Couple the quality of building materials with Scott’s skill, and the result is a chair that is not just patio furniture but an heirloom-quality item to be enjoyed generation after generation.
Right now, Timbernak is on a build-to-order basis—a necessity given Scott’s inability to keep his popular chairs from immediately being snapped up as they are built. He is, however, always taking orders—so if owning one of Arkansas’ newest, sturdiest, most high-quality wood products appeals to you, he stands ready to create a product that will exceed your expectations.
For ordering information and additional images, visit timbernak.com.